Millwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander Speaks in Support of Bills Pre-empting Living Wage Ordinance
Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander today testified before a joint Legislative committee in support of two bills that would preempt a "living wage" ordinance.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander today testified before a joint Legislative committee in support of two bills that would preempt a “living wage” ordinance that would require contractors who do business with Milwaukee County to pay their employees $11.32 an hour.
The bills, Assembly Bill 750 and Senate Bill 626, would prohibit local governments from requiring that any employer doing business with a local government pay their employees a minimum wage. By a vote of 12-6, the Milwaukee County Board passed a “living wage” ordinance in February.
“Those supporting the LWO (living wage ordinance) are selling hope to the public by saying that these new rules will create an atmosphere of fairness and change the game by lifting people out of poverty,” Alexander testified. “They also claim that they have the right to impose these requirements on private businesses because the county has a right to dictate how its money will be spent.”
Alexander said that the Milwaukee County LWO is unfair because it exempts certain unions and certain employers. She added that the ordinance would likely bankrupt the County’s Family Care long-term care program. “If Family Care goes bankrupt, that will hurt our most vulnerable – the elderly and disabled,” Alexander said. “How is it that the LWO will lead to fairness?”
Alexander said the Milwaukee County LWO would fill union coffers because employers with union contracts would be exempt. “Unions now have a bargaining chip to take to employers,” Alexander said. “Now I know that union bargaining is a sensitive topic with the state. But I want to show you why, whether you generally side with the unions or not, this is still a raw deal for workers.”
She said, for example, that when the employers agree to a closed shop, exclusive, and mandatory union contract, unions will be empowered by the County Board to offer an exemption to the living wage.
“This means that the employers get to keep wages at their current rates and in exchange the unions get to collect dues,” she testified. “The employees… well, they get to NOT make the ‘Living Wage’ that politicians are saying are so vital to help people survive. All because of a backroom deal.”
Alexander said the LWO is not about a living wage “and it is surely not about fairness,” urging legislators to support the bills.
“You have an opportunity to demand something better of local officials, particularly those that are supposed to be functioning as an arm of your decisions here at the state,” she told the committee. “As someone living in Milwaukee and working in its County government, I can testify that, in this case, the best thing you could do is save us from ourselves.”
In order to read Supervisor Alexander’s full testimony, click on the link Read testimony here.
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